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Thematic Analysis Of Jack London's White Fang

932 words - 4 pages

Thematic Analysis of Jack London's White Fang

White Fang, written by Jack London, is a wonderful adventure novel that vividly depicts the life of a wolf by the name of White Fang. Throughout the course of the novel, White Fang goes through numerous learning experiences as he interacts with humans and other wolves from Alaska around the turn of the century. Jack London uses the events that transpire during White Fang's life to illustrate that only the cunning, intelligent, and strong will be able to survive. The ideas of Darwinism and survival are reinforced by almost every action that takes place in the novel. Man is shown defeating nature through superior intelligence, a wolf cub conquers his puppy-hood, and a young wolf survives despite the hardships placed upon him by man.

     As the story begins, Jack London is quick to introduce his theme, but he opens the first three chapters without the main character, White Fang. Two men, named Bill and Henry, are trying to transport the body of a rich man across the frozen tundra of Alaska by sled dog, while a pack of hungry wolves is pursuing them. The wolves gradually kill off the team of dogs, and eventually Bill, in an attempt to survive the long winter. It is ironic in that both the wolves and Henry are struggling against each other for their lives. The wolves need to eat Henry to fight off their maddening hunger, and Henry needs to get rid of the wolves so he can remain living. In the end, Henry proves the victor of the deadly competition by creating a barrier of fire to ward off the wolves until he is rescued. This introductory scenario illustrates that survival will be known only to the intelligent and thus illuminates the theme that presents itself throughout the entire novel.

     Almost directly after White Fang's birth, he learns the law of survival. When he stumbles out of the den as a small and clumsy cub, his instincts instruct him to pounces upon every living thing in front of him. However, this behavior leads to an unfortunate run-in with a larger animal that sends him scurrying back to the comfort of the den. Unlike his brothers and sisters who perished at an early age, White Fang learns the guidelines that the laws of nature set forth. He comprehends the 'eat or be eaten'; structure of animal society and knows that he must eat and avoid being eaten to guarantee his survival.

     This concept of survival is reinforced as White Fang has his first encounter with man. His first instinct is to attack when he sees his half-wolf half-dog mother recaptured by Indians, and he acts on this instinct. The rocks thrown by the Indians, however, remind him that he is a mere...

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